Rwanda is a landlocked country within the Great Rift Valley region where the African Great Lakes area converges with East African area. The remarkable country is a wonderful tourist destination with attractions ranging from mountain vistas, primates, spectacular sceneries, stunning water views and most interestingly rich history and culture. The country is highly elevated (hilly) hence the nickname “land of a thousand hills”. The Capital City is Kigali and population (as of 2020) stands at 12,671,000 people. The Official languages in this small country are French, English and Kinyarwanda. Rwanda covers an area of only 10169 square miles with mountains, hills, forest, water bodies, savannah and many other spectaculars landscapes.


Rwanda is located within the East and Central African region, a few degrees south of the Equator and shares its borders with Uganda to the North and North-east, Tanzania to the East, Burundi to the South as well as Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West.

History of Rwanda

Rwanda’s history is an interesting one and is divided into pre-colonial, colonial as well as post-colonial times/era.

History has it that modern settlement in the present-day Rwanda dates back to the last glacial period, either in the long humid period that lasted up to approximately 3000 BC or the final stages of Stone Age period at approximately 8000 BC. Excavations also proved that there was originally sparse population of hunter-gatherers in the late Stone Age period, proceeded by bigger populations of early Iron Age settlers who made iron tools and pottery. The first settlers were actually the forefathers of the Twa, current pygmy hunter-gatherers in Rwanda.

The area was then occupied by the Batwa (between 700 BC and 1500BC) and their coming meant forests were cleared for Agriculture. These are the present-day Hutu while the Tutsi arrived into the area later, hence forming a different racial group of Nile-Hamitic origin.

The Colonial era began in 1884 with the Berlin Conference assigning the area to Germany as part of “German East Africa”. The first European to tremendously explore Rwanda was Gustav Adolf Von Gotzen who arrived in 1894. He entered the territory from the south-western part of the area to Lake Kivu and even met with the King. Rwanda and Burundi were originally governed by the Belgians as “Ruanda-Urundi” with Rwanda being in the Northern and its counterpart in the south. Rwanda later broke-off from Burundi and became Independent on 1st July 1962 with Juvenal Habyarimana taking over power through a military coup. His rule was filled with segregation and marginalization.

The greatest part of Rwanda’s history was shaped its present and future is the 1994 Genocide, sparked by the assassination of the President (A Hutu) and given the high inequality levels and discrimination at the time, it was purported that the Tutsi were responsible hence making them a target of killings, massacre and attacks. Within just 100 days, over 1,000,000 people (mainly Tutsi and moderate or well-to-do Hutu).  This massacre was ended when troops from RPF led by Paul Kagame with assistance from UPDF of neighboring Uganda gained control of Kigali and slowly other areas of the country. Pasteur Bizimungu became the president and later Paul Kagame after winning majority votes in 2000 and still rules to date.

Gorilla Trekking

Rwanda rewards travellers with some of the most exhilarating gorilla trekking tours on Earth. This adventure is conducted within Volcanoes National Park, set against the backdrop of verdant rolling hills as well as soaring mountain slopes. With at least 25% of the World’s remaining mountain gorilla population living in a 160-square kilometer Park, it is not a surprise that thousands of travellers visit Rwanda to trek and spend quality time with our endangered cousins in their natural habitats. There are over 12 habituated gorilla groups in this Rwandan Park. Despite the country’s turbulent and painful past, it is absolutely safe to undertake gorilla trekking adventures in Rwanda. With a gorilla permit of $1500 per person per trek, you are allowed to enter into the jungles and spend one hour in the midst of these endangered creatures.

You will get the chance to hike the densely forested slopes of Virunga Volcanoes to search for the wild mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. Hike while gazing out onto the soaring mountain slopes blanketed by verdant and heavily forested Tropical vegetation. Get totally immersed into this magical natural setting, relish the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of watching the riveting interaction between members of a gorilla family/group.

National Parks & Other attractions

Besides Volcanoes National Park that is obviously the highlight of most Rwanda safaris, travellers are offered exceptional safari experiences in the country’s other three National Parks that include;

Akagera National Park

At the eastern side of Rwanda is Akagera National Park extending for over 1122 square kilometers and its sweeping low-lying plains are made up of savannah, several Lakes, wetland, forest and woodland. This Park is known for sheltering over 20 Eastern black rhinos, Rothschild giraffes, elephants, leopards, Defassa waterbucks, Burchell’s zebras, Cape buffaloes, Topis, olive baboons, Bushbucks, black and white colobus monkeys, lions, spotted hyenas, Hippos, crocodiles and Kobs among others, in addition to over 500 bird species including the grey-crowned  cranes, pelicans and shoebill storks among others.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Nyungwe is one of the oldest montane rainforests in Africa extending for over 1000 square kilometers and boasts of a rich biodiversity as well as being incredibly stunning. This mountainous and heavily forested National Park is teeming with wildlife including over 13 primate species that include chimpanzees, grey-cheeked mangabeys, Angolan colobus monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys, the red-tailed monkeys and many others that are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Over 15 hiking trails alongside riveting activities have made this Park one of the top safari destinations for Rwanda safaris and throughout Africa.

Gishwati-Mukura National Park

Gishwati-Mukura is the newest Park in the country and was established from merging two separate forests-the smaller Mukura and the large Gishwati. These combined areas form about 34 square kilometers including the buffer zones. There are over 6 primate species here including about 20 chimpanzees, golden monkeys, Blue monkeys, L’Hoests monkeys and others in addition to about 230 bird species.

Top Things to do during Rwanda Safaris

If you have thoughts of exploring Rwanda, you are possibly doing it for one reason-gorilla trekking with the opportunity of spending time with one of the most beautiful and popular primate species. Rwanda safaris are undeniably the best way to trek the mountain gorillas but that is not the only interesting thing to do in Rwanda. Therefore, other things to do during Rwanda safaris include;

Explore Genocide Memorial Sites

As you transverse Rwanda, it is impossible to hear locals take a trip down memory lane of at least thick about the traumatic 1994 genocide. 100 days totally shaped the course of history for this country, millions of lives were lost and many children became orphans. Visit one of several Genocide Memorial Sites to learn about this heartbreaking history.

Safaris in Akagera National Park

For a short two and a half drive from the City you will be led to Akagera National Park for a safari introducing you to the big five animals (Rhinos, Cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards and lions), zebras, bushbucks, Topis, Kobs, warthogs and many others.

Trek for the chimpanzees

Chimpanzees in Rwanda can be trekked from Nyungwe Forest National Park or even Gishwati Forest where travellers get the opportunity to see our close cousins foraging for food, playing, grooming and nursing young ones.

Experience East Africa’s only canopy walkway

Walking along the suspended bridge above Nyungwe’s canopies and gorges is one of the most rewarding adventures to enjoy during Rwanda safaris. This walk takes one to one and a half hours but provides visitors with bird views, tree canopies, primates and many others.

Other interesting things to do during Rwanda safaris are volunteering with the community during Umuganda day, enjoy nightlife in Kigali City, learn how to pick coffee and tea leaves as well as witness its processing into fine product, climb to the peaks of Virunga Volcanoes, Visit the King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza, Hike to the Dian Fossey gravesite, see numerous bird species, track golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park and

Where to stay during Rwanda Safaris

Where you stay during Rwanda safaris largely depends on the destination you are visiting. The top tourist sites (Kigali City and other Urban Centers, National Parks, Lakeshores and others) have a range of budget, midrange and luxury place to stay. However, the most popular and must-try places during Rwanda safaris are Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Radisson Blue Hotel & Convention Center, Ruzizi Tented Camp, Virunga Safari Lodge, One & Only Nyungwe House, Kwitonda House, Nyungwe Hill Top View Hotel, Kigali Serena Hotel, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Kigali Marriot Hotel, The Retreat, Lake Kivu Serena, Bisate Lodge, One & Only Gorilla’s Nest and many others,

When to visit Rwanda

There is specific correct answer to “when to visit Rwanda” because the country can be visited all year round and also, the activity you are planning to undertake is directly or indirectly influenced by season. For instance, mountain climbing, game viewing and gorilla treks are perfect during the dry season while birders prefer visiting the country in the wet season when migratory species are many and birds are beginning to breed.

What every traveler needs to know before visiting Rwanda

  • Rwanda is one of the safest places to visit in the World.
  • Time zone is UTC+2 (CAT)
  • The Local currency is Rwandan Franc (RWF).
  • The driving side in Rwanda is right.
  • All travellers must possess a visa to visit Rwanda.

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